Same Love Success

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It’s not often a rap song carried a message of support for anything gay let alone marriage equality, therefore it came as quite a surprise to many to hear a rap tune supporting gay marriage had snuck into the US top 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Rap duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis released the song Same Love, quite some time ago, February I believe and as the momentum for equal marriage across the US has increased so have sales for the enchanting tune. Last week it sold the most it ever had since it was released, an amazing 110,000 copies, pushing it into the charts.

The song comes from the duo‘s latest album and focuses on Macklemore’s personal experiences, thoughts and feelings around the issue of same-sex relationships and equal marriage. The accompanying video also features the lives of a gay couple, including a happy marriage and can be seen on YouTube.

The lyrics were inspired by Referendum 74, where voters in the US state of Washington voted to uphold a law legalising equal marriage.

Many believe the song, which also features vocalist Mary Lambert, gained an added impetuous recently because of the US Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of same-sex marriage, in two cases recently. It jumped from 28 to 16 in the Hot 100, as well as surging from 23 to 8 on the US Digital chart.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis rose to fame in the UK last year with the song Thrift Shop, which topped the UK chart and the follow up Can’t Hold Us, is currently in the top 20 in the UK, having been on the chart for around 16 weeks.

Same Love is surprisingly evocative and packed with energy, passion and meaning. A worthy addition to any music collection.

New Yorker’s Bert & Ernie Cover Promotes Child Abuse Says Radio Host

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Bryan Fischer, a Christian radio host in the US has gained notoriety world-wide and stolen some of the media attention around the US Supreme Court historic ruling on Defence Of Marriage Act last week, by saying the New Yorker magazine’s cover “promoted child abuse”, simply by featuring Sesame Street characters cuddling at the news.

This popular and long running New Yorker magazine features Bert and Ernie snuggling up to each other on a sofa, while an image of the US Supreme Court Justices appears on their television screen. It’s simple, it’s cute, it doesn’t have them kissing or in any way acting inappropriately yet that didn’t stop the anti-gay, anti-equality Bryan Fischer spouting out a great deal of hate.

The Christian radio host launched his attack during his Focal Point programme saying the characters were engaged in a “homosexual clinch”. Adding “I don’t know which is which” continuing: “This is grossly irresponsible for The New Yorker to promote this, they really are promoting child endangerment and they are promoting child abuse.”

Fischer also quoted figures from the heavily criticized Regnerus Study, published in July 2012, which was titled “How Different Are The Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study”. Its findings were refuted by many and deemed “flawed and misleading” with a lack of fact.

Many have believed that the two Sesame Street characters were a gay couple over the years, some 10,000 people even signed an online petition during 2011, urging the creators to allow the ‘couple’ to get married.

The Sesame Street workshop issued a statement at the time which stated: “Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though the Sesame Street Muppets … possess many human traits and characteristics, they have no sexual orientation.” Of course it had nothing to do with their Christian sponsors threatening to pull out if Bert and Ernie did end up getting hitched to each other.

Just recently the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which federally defined marriage as between one man and one woman. A second case, centered around California’s Proposition 8, the Supreme Court ruled that such a ruling was not in its jurisdiction, nor was it in the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court, which previously ruled, therefore deferring the decision to a previous ruling by a district court which decided the ban was unconstitutional.

Alec Baldwin Says Sorry

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Top TV and film actor Alec Baldwin has posted an open letter to GLAAD and the greater gay community sincerely apologizing for ‘questionable’ comments he made recently about a UK Daily Mail journalist.

Last week Alec Baldwin launched a very vocal and public attack via social network Twitter on George Stark a Daily Mail reporter calling him a “toxic little queen” and urging his followers to “straighten out this fucking little bitch.”

Alec’s anger came in response to a factually incorrect article by Stark in the UK’s top selling tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail. The article Stark penned accused Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria, of sending tweets about smoothie recipes and a wedding anniversary during the funeral of Sopranos star James Gandolfini.

Baldwin let fly with a string of tweets calling Stark a “lying little bitch.” He also threatened violence against Stark, writing: “I’m gonna find you, George Stark, you toxic little queen, and I’m gonna fuck…you…up.”

In the open letter to GLAAD, sent to the organisation and posted on the actor’s website, Alec Baldwin said his comments were “ill advised”, and had “absolutely nothing to do with issues of anyone’s sexual orientation.” He wrote: “My ill-advised attack on George Stark of the Daily Mail had absolutely nothing to do with issues of anyone’s sexual orientation. My anger was directed at Mr Stark for blatantly lying and disseminating libellous information about my wife and her conduct at our friend’s funeral service. As someone who fights against homophobia, I apologize.”

“I have worked, periodically, with numerous marriage equality organizations, especially over the past couple of years, to achieve the very rights that gay couples are earning by recent court decisions. I would not advocate violence against someone for being gay and I hope that my friends at GLAAD and the gay community understand that my attack on Mr Stark in no way was the result of homophobia.”

GLAAD Vice President of Communications Rich Ferraro replied to the apology saying ”Alec Baldwin is making it clear that the intent behind his tweets does not excuse his language, especially at a time when there were 11 incidents of violence against gay men in New York City just last month. As we all work to end such senseless acts of violence, allies like Baldwin are right to use these moments to reinforce support for the community and LGBT equality.”

The Daily Mail newspaper however is often dubbed the Daily ‘Hate’ Mail by gay rights campaigners because of its rancid homophobic editorial style, content and campaigns against equality. Many of its writers rely little on fact and are known for ’embellishing’ the truth by incredible amounts to create stories, articles and features. Hilaria, who is pregnant, didn’t even have her phone with her at the funeral of their friend, so it would have been impossible to tweet from it.

 

 

I wonder if a gay actor had made the same remarks about the dodgy hack would they also stand accused of being homophobic?

Torchwood Star Barrowman Marries

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Top showman, entertainer and actor John Barrowman married his long term partner Scott Gill last week, after a 20-year committed relationship.

The couple had already entered into a civil partnership back in 2006, however following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) recently, Barrowman and his partner Scott Gill were delighted to legally marry in the state of California.

Barrowman himself announced the news via a video clip before posting a photo after their special ceremony. During the short video John can be seen addressing the camera, saying: “It’s five after one and we’ve got our coffee and we’re in the car getting ready to leave, because where are we going, Scott?” The Torchwood star then turned the camera on his partner Gill, who replies: “To get married. Yay!”

He closes the video with a reference to the overturning of DOMA last week, adding: “We’re getting married in the state of California. Thank you Supreme Court, about time you made it legal. See you after we have the ceremony!”

The happy newlyweds later posted a photograph of themselves with their marriage certificate, writing: “We are now legally married. Thanks for all your great wishes. JB and Scott.”

The couple have always been open about their desire to get married telling many in the media they would just as soon as it became legal to do so in the US. They have also indicated in interviews that would like to have children too, when the time was right – “We haven’t ruled out having children ourselves but it depends where my career takes us.” John claimed in an interview in the UK’s Sun newspaper last year.

“We wouldn’t want a baby. We’d look at adopting an older child or teenager who might have been in trouble. We would also look at adopting a gay child, thrown out of their home because of their sexuality.”

We send our love and warmest wishes to John and Scott on their happy news and hope they have a long and happy married life together.

Lesbian Murdered In South Africa

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South Africa may be the only African nation that allows same-sex marriage and recognizes gay rights, but that doesn’t mean it is free from homophobia and hate. News that a young lesbian had been found murdered and sexually mutilated last week was greeted with horror and sadness by gay rights campaigners and commentators.

The twenty-six year old was killed in what appeared to be a homophobic attack and was found with a toilet brush inserted into her vagina, in the Thokoza area, just east of Johannesburg.

“The woman was last seen at a local shebeen and we are awaiting the results of a post-mortem to determine whether she had been raped,” Captain Godfrey Maditsi of the Thokoza police station told newspaper reporters. He also confirmed that as yet no arrests have been made and asked members of the public to come forward with any information that could assist the police with their inquires.

At least seven people, five of them lesbians, have been murdered in South Africa between June and November 2012 during what appears to have been targeted violence against them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Only a couple of weeks ago the global human rights charity, Amnesty International, warned that homophobic attacks had increased dramatically in the South Africa in recent years.

Many local campaigners fear this is the tip of the iceberg, as many lesbian and gay people are deeply frightened about reporting instances of homophobic attacks or abuse. Party because of the fear of reprisals from those responsible in the first place, but a lack of trust that the Police will either believe them or do anything over such attacks.

US Radio Pastors Blame Gay Kiss For Colorado’s Wild Fires

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How can the so called religious right be oh so wrong? I could hardly believe the headline that two pastors in the US state of Colorado have blamed a single kiss between two men for the devastating Colorado wildfires.

Could it really be true that the pastors, supposedly being messengers of god really be saying the cause of the fires was god’s wrath over seeing a newspaper picture of two guys kissing. It had to be a joke didn’t it? But nope, apparently it’s true, speaking on Generations Radio, pastors Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner, blamed God’s wrath over the Colorado Springs wildfires, on recently approved civil unions legislation and abortion law for the fires.

Swanson also went on to blame the cover of The Denver Post newspaper, which featured State House Majority Leader Mark Ferrandino, kissing his partner, for the wildfires. Buehner said: “Like the very first day [of the Legislative session], was to pass that civil union bill, which is an uncivil bill.”

Swanson responded: “When you have a state where the House leadership is performing a homosexual act on the front page of the Denver Post two months ago? Does God read the Denver Post? Do you think He picks up a copy of the Denver Post? He gets it. God gets the Denver Post.”

Buehner went on to say that the state should be grateful that God “hasn’t destroyed the whole state yet”, “as an act of grace”. I couldn’t believe it, it would make my blood boil and incandescent rage envelope my whole body were it not so utterly ridiculous and nonsensical. The more I read the report of what these two men of god spouted the more incredible it seemed and I wondered for their sanity, no I’m not being cruel, I really mean that, are they sane, really? The pair went on to blame “metrosexual” men for not growing out their facial hair, and wearing “fairy shoes”, and feminist acts like wearing hats, for going against God’s word.

These man obviously have little respect for their ‘god’ if they think he would kill thousands of animals, a dozen humans and ravage thousands of miles of land, just for a kiss, between two guys on the cover of a newspaper or the idea that same sex couples should be allowed to get married, what an evil, vindictive god he must be and certainly not the god I recognise from the scriptures.

On one hand it makes me laugh that these guys are so deluded and mentally deranged, yet it also makes me sad that there will be people out there, listening to that radio show believing every word of it simple because its said by a couple of pastors. It is equally sad because, such stories reach far beyond America’s borders and what sort of message is it sending out? Not one that reflects well on the US that’s for sure!

Pride Boost Economy

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“Every city should have a pride!” says author and GayAgenda writer Jason Shaw, “Not only for the entertainment and celebration aspects, but also because it can financially benefit a whole region” he says as he looks ahead to the UK’s forthcoming north east festival that is estimated to boost the Tyneside economy by around £1m.

Last year, Newcastle Pride attracted around 23,000 visitors for the one day event held in Newcastle’s Exhibition Park, with people coming from all over the not only the north east, but also from around the United Kingdom. Some people came to enjoy northern hospitality from as far away as Sweden, Holland and Italy. “There are a number of Pride events in the UK and the major ones attract large numbers of people, both from the local population, but also from the rest of the UK as well as Europe. Many of these visitors don’t just come for the Pride event itself, but also to have a mini holiday, staying on average at least three or four days in the city, this brings in much needed funds to the hospitality industry of the local area as well as giving a boost to the wider community.” Jason explains.

The organisers of this years North East Pride believe their line-up will bring in even bigger crowds to Tyneside – giving a huge boost to hotels, restaurants and bars across the city and beyond. Initially they had planned to move to event to Leazes Park, however it has now been decided to keep the July 20th event at the remain at National Exhibition Park to ensure the expected large numbers of festival goers can be accommodated.

“We’ve every indication that this year will be even more successful,” said Peter Darrant, chair of Northern Pride, which stages Newcastle Pride. “We’ve got a fantastic list of performers and have extended the range of activities and we hope that people from across the region will come and join the LGBT community for what will be an incredible event.”

“We know people travel from across the UK to come to Newcastle Pride and we have estimated the economic value to the area, based on last year’s spend, to be around £1m for the 2013 event.”

Headlining the entertainment at this year’s event will be a finalist from the UK’s X Factor TV show, Amelia Lily, along with the sensational 1980′s original punk/pop star Toyah. Other acts appearing in the line-up include Steptastic, Katrina of the Waves and Titch, who recently supported Olly Murs on tour.

Newcastle Pride will also a health zone, a cabaret tent, sports arena, trans zone, dance tent, tea tent and a funfair to ensure a good time is had by all. For the first time this year Newcastle Pride will also be running a family zone with a range of activities and advice from organisations such as leading adoption agencies. “Pride events are great fun, they show off our diverse community to the wider world, encourage closer cooperation and links between communities and boost the income of the city or region that hosts them – so its a win win situation for all concerned.” Jason added.

Rethink Gay Marriage says UK Bishop

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The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtham has suggested in a letter to UK daily newspaper, The Telegraph that it was time for the church to “rethink” attitudes about same-sex marriage, as Christians had done with slavery and apartheid.

“No one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.” The religious leader argued that same sex marriage did not “detract from heterosexual marriage” and that the “development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage”.

The same-sex marriage bill that would allow same-sex couples, who can currently hold civil partnership ceremonies, to marry is currently being debated in the UK parliament. There are religious safeguards already written into the bill in which religious organisations would have to “opt in” to offering weddings, with the Church of England and Church in Wales being banned in law from doing so.

The bill has been backed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, his Lib Dem deputy PM Nick Clegg as well as the opposition leader Ed Miliband and the majority of their party members. Although many Tory backbenchers oppose the bill and voted against equality, showing that for all Cameron’s talk of being a progressive party and worthy of leading the country for the next decade is just talk and empty promises.

Anti-Gay Laws Pass in Nigeria

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Nigeria’s House of Representatives recently voted in favour of a ban on gay marriage, outlaw any groups actively supporting gay rights and endorsing a measure that also calls for 10-year prison sentences for any “public show” of affection by a same-sex couple.

The House of Representatives appeared to unanimously approve the proposal in a voice vote, sending it immediately to the President, Goodluck Jonathan for him to sign it into law in Africa’s most populous nation.

Nigeria’s Senate previously passed the bill back in November 2011, although it seemed to disappear in procedure for some time before re-emerging in the most recent session of the House. This new law would not only ban any same-sex marriage from taking place either in a mosque or a church, it would also see same-sex couples face up to 14 years in jail for marrying in other locations. In a horrendous abuse of freedom the law would also have implications for friends and relations of gay people, as anyone who witnesses or conducts same-sex marriages would face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The law would also effectively silence Nigeria’s gay population, as under the proposed legislation anyone taking part in a group advocating for gay rights or anyone caught in a “public show” of affection also would face 10 years in prison. Many fear this is just the start of an anti-gay campaign by the political leaders in the country that would lead to custodial sentences for simply being gay or lesbian. There is already a ban on gay sex in the country and a culture of hatred toward gay people has existed for many years, including when the country was rules by the British Empire.

The bill is currently with President Goodluck Jonathan awaiting for his approval or an incredibly unlikely veto. So far all requests for comment on this issue have gone unanswered either by his office or the President himself. The UK, which gives millions free money and aid to Nigeria has previously threatened to stop aid to nations that discriminate against gays, but no money has yet been stopped to any nation on this basis. Plus there seems little appetite among the government elite to make a stand on the issue because of the backbench revolt Prime Minister David Cameron faced over his stand on gay marriage recently.

During 2011 President Barack Obama issued a similar directive asking officials to “ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of” gays, lesbians and the transgender people included having diplomats “combat the criminalisation” of being gay by foreign governments, yet the US remains the biggest customer for the Nigerian oil industry.

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Scotland’s Gay Marriage Plans

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The government in Scotland, UK, has confirmed it will introduce a bill to allow same-sex marriage within the month. A special consultation on a ‘Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill’ came to an end in March this year, however its findings have yet to be made public.

Scottish ministers have promised to change the law to allow same-sex couples the right to marry whilst also writing in protections for religious groups that do not want to carry out such ceremonies. Both the Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic Church are against the plans, as is expected.

The government advise the bill would also allow civil ceremonies to take place at a location other than a registrar’s office and once a legislative proposal had been lodged at parliament it will undergo rigorous scrutiny before committee members and in the chamber. There have also been talks going on behind the scenes have been taking place with the UK Government as ministers at Holyrood House, the home of the Scottish political chamber, believe an amendment is needed to UK equalities legislation to protect individual celebrants who may not want to conduct same-sex ceremonies even if their church, as an organisation, backs them. Health secretary Mr Neil said “substantial progress” had been made on the issue in discussions with UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller.

Mr Neil said: “We have given a commitment to introduce this legislation after the extensive consultation we have had as quickly as possible, which is what we’re doing. I would hope the timetabling would be such that we could see this bill become law sooner rather than later.”